Defying gravity and the laws of footballing physics
Fulham 0 Tottenham 3
Three games to save his job they said. So he won the three games. Villas-Boas, what a playa.
Does it really matter what they say any more? This continued congestion of narratives dominates headlines rather than thoughtful analysis and consumption of just the facts. Lose a couple, you're in crisis. Win a couple, you're back in the chase. Take a step back and attempt to look at the bigger picture and you'll see what you're meant to see rather than the drama others wish to portray. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
We are still plodding along. We were plodding along during the Fulham game until Sandro punctured the game with a long range effort which woke everyone up and opened the game to our advantage. His shot moving, curving, dipping enough to beat Schwarzer and the post. Before that Dawson who started ahead of Gallas was replaced by the Frenchman due to injury. One of two only notable details pre-55th minute.
Lloris started, Walker was replaced by Naughton and Caulker was back in the side. Chances few and far between and when they arrived they were dealt with. Very little space for our flankers to work down. Equally so, very little fluidity and controlled possession. The other notable detail involved Gareth Bale, gravity and a yellow card.
Bale was fouled. Not in the eyes of Foy who booked him for simulation (two games running and fourth time this season). Was there contact? Yes. As Bale attempted to skip past, he was tripped. I guess the continued ambiguity will remain whether he could have attempted to control his balance and remain upright. An attempt to do so might have seen him tumble down regardless, but with less dramatic flair and therefore more sympathy from the man in black. At the speed he moves there's always the argument that gravity will pull him down if the slightest touch is made regardless.
We've been here before with Bale. If he's genuinely falling thanks to the foul, then he can do with just falling rather than falling and looking around to find the ref to make sure the ref can see he's falling. If he is falling simply because of the slightest of contact and if he wanted to retain balance he could, then sympathy might be low once more from the ref. Both incidents against Liverpool and Fulham, looked like contact was made and at the speed of travel, why not go down rather than potentially lose the ball and momentum? Perhaps he needs to have his ankle broken for a ref to quantify lack of simulation. There has to be a middle ground here between players and refs, and some common sense. If a player is fouled, he's fouled no matter the way he falls to the ground as long as he's not taking the p*ss. The issue remains in the eye of the beholder and against Fulham (and Liverpool) it seems the verdict is that Bale could do more to fight gravity.
On the pitch, you can hardly stand around debating this in your head. It has to be simplified. The one argument in favour of Bale is - contact is contact, so what do ref's expect? Simulation is when there is no contact, when the players is blatantly cheating and looking to feign injury and get a player booked/send off. Contact itself can't be quantified on how physical the 'foul' itself was. A trip is exactly that. Subtle.
One thing he can't do again is sarcastically applaud the ref's decision. Lucky not to get a second yellow considering how easy some refs find giving out the initial one.
Then cometh the 55th minute and cometh the beast. The game opened which suited Dembele and Dempsey and new founded space for our flankers. More movement, more intent going forward. Then a third notable detail, this one post 1-0. Bale and his hamstring and Sigurdsson replacing him. He's out for around two weeks so not quite as disastrous as it might have turned out. We adapted well and we continued to contain any Fulham attacks and push on ourselves.
Defoe (who has owned this past week) scored twice. Dempsey to Sigurdsson who went on a mini-dribbling run assisting JD for his first and our second. Then, before you had time to settle back into the game from celebrating, he notched up his brace. Dempsey involved again, setting up another strikers goal for the player that doesn't do anything other than score.
Much love for Martin Jol. Admiration for Berbatov although some would prefer to remain detach from admitting it. Good to see Sigurdsson involved and Dempsey effective playing behind Defoe. Wasn't spectacular. But then who exactly is at the moment? The difference in the long run is how much we can improve compared to the direction some of our competitors are taking.
3-0. Away. Clean sheet. Three games, three wins, nine points from nine. Chelsea lose, Arsenal collapse. Pretty much the perfect conclusion to a perfect week.